Are you looking to study an English literature or language at university? You’ll need to pay attention to more than just your spelling and grammar, according to admissions tutors.
Here’s what else budding literary students will need to showcase – or avoid – in their applications.
If you’re about to start to draft your personal statement, thinking about this question is a good place to kick off your thought process. Here’s what a couple of admissions tutors we spoke to said…
A succinct and focused statement that:
Turn offs? Deep and meaningful philosophical statements, overlong sentences, baroque syntax and incorrect punctuation… Dr Luke Thurston – Director Of Recruitment For English & Creative Writing | Aberystwyth University
You should be specific about the texts, contexts and critical tendencies that really excite you. We read hundreds of statements each year, but genuine passion and detail will always catch our eye.
Be wary of writing about authors or texts that are almost certain to attract a huge amount of popular attention, whether it be Kerouac’s On the Road, the Harry Potter series or Joyce’s Ulysses – try to be original and passionate without waxing lyrical.
Dr Padraig Kirwan – American Literature Lecturer | Goldsmiths – University Of London
Do use your statement as an opportunity to discuss a specific writer you’re interested in – and preferably one who isn’t on the A-level syllabus. It’s a great way of demonstrating your interests and what inspires you about the study of literature.
Be genuine. Tutors want to hear an account in your own words of those books and features of literature that you have found most enjoyable. But while you might want to try and think outside the box by picking a more unusual novelist or poem, don’t be obscure just for the sake of it. An insightful, imaginative and critical response to literature is what will impress, not what’s on your bookshelf.
Most universities like to see some detail of this but keep it interesting and brief – probably 20% maximum – and ask yourself why it’s relevant. For example, your experience listening to or coaching readers in your local primary school will probably make more impact than playing badminton.
How much you dedicate in your statement to outside interests will also depend on the kind of English degree you are applying for, or whether you are combining it with another subject.
Dr Antonella Castelvedere at University Campus Suffolk, whose degree course focuses on English language as well as literature, is looking for students to reflect on both elements and mentions book group membership, theatre attendance, cultural projects or voluntary work in schools as examples of the kind of activities that would impress, along with anything that demonstrates inquisitiveness or critical thinking.
The English department at Royal Holloway sums up nicely what it’s looking for on its website…
You! This may seem a facile response, but many personal statements become (under the strain of the occasion) solemn mini-essays about the importance and validity of the study of literature, with testimonials to various authors and attempted epitomes of what they teach their readers. As a department of English Literature, we do not need to be persuaded of these things, but want the main part of the personal statement to be about you: your tastes in reading, your cultural activities, your aspirations, and some of your relevant personal experiences.
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At the age of 18, G. Stanley Hall left his home in the tiny village of Ashfield, Mass., for Williams College, just 35 miles away, with a goal to “do something and be something in the world.” His mother wanted him to become a minister, but the young Stanley wasn’t sure about that plan. He saw a four-year degree as a chance to explore.
As a pediatrician, I find that there are few topics that parents want to discuss more than sleep. Parents worry about their own sleep deprivation when babies arrive. Later, they worry about their children’s. I almost never encounter patients who are convinced that they’re getting the recommended amount of sleep.
A few years ago, universities started to advertise their courses using a striking government statistic: that a degree added about £250,000 to one’s lifetime earnings. It was the start of a new era, where teenagers would have to borrow up to £9,000 a year for their tuition and wanted to know if the investment would be worth it. Don’t worry, HM Government seemed to assure them, we’ve crunched the numbers and found that a degree will catapult you into the salary fast lane.
As the frenzied college application season draws to a close, and students across the country mull their choices, many colleges are trumpeting that it was the most selective year ever. But high school guidance counselors and admissions experts say the heightened competition has turned the process into a anxiety-ridden numbers game.
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — “Hurry Up!!!” the online posting said. “Spot Admissions” to Western Kentucky University. Scholarships of up to $17,000 were available, it added. “Letter in one day.” The offer, by a college recruiter based in India, was part of a campaign so enticing that more than 300 students swiftly applied to a college that many had probably never heard of.
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After thumbing through countless prospectuses, working out predicted A-levels and totting up the price of university, British students are picking up their passports and searching farther afield for an education.
While most parents find the college process stressful and bewildering, we interviewed some who have a unique perspective: admissions officers who are also the parents of teenagers and college students themselves.
At a recent open morning at Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, I could barely focus on the headmistress’s welcome for the French mother at my side, furiously typing les points essentiels into an immaculate spreadsheet.
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Academics say move should benefit state pupils and give better indication of abilities than Oxbridge interview process. Would-be Cambridge University students will have to sit a written test in their subject area from this autumn.
January: the one time of year you can almost guarantee to be overwhelmed with advice. Whether it’s tackling the Christmas indulgences, cutting back on alcohol or maintaining motivation past week one of your New Year’s resolutions, there’s bound to be an expert offering you guidance about how to fulfil your goals.
The university application deadline is about to arrive. If you want your application to be considered by institutions, you must make sure everything is sent off by 18:00 (GMT) on Friday January 15. There are many parts of your application you need to have in place, so it is worth running through a checklist in good time before the day arrives. Read More.
A growing number of high-flying parents are choosing elite international schools for their children – but New York based Avenues is in a league of its own. Imagine a school where the classes are conducted entirely in Mandarin, interactive lessons are beamed from country to country, pupils can still attend ‘virtually’, from the comfort of their sickbeds – and every child is taught “good character” alongside “digital and ethical citizenship.” Read More.
Three-year-old Desi Sorrelgreen’s favorite thing about his preschool is “running up hills.” His classmate Stelyn Carter, 5, likes to “be quiet and listen to birds — crows, owls and chickadees,” as she put it. And for Joshua Doctorow, 4, the best part of preschool just may be the hat he loves to wear to class (black and fuzzy, with flaps that come down over his ears).
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A family with a son who had significant development delays contacted me regarding life as an internationally mobile family and wondered about embarking on such a lifestyle. We spent hours of counseling up front while they were still in their home environments, and the family prepared to homeschool their son, knowing few schools overseas would…
A family with two employed parents was suddenly separated by an evacuation, leaving them with some important decisions to make quickly regarding the children’s education. The older daughter remained in her boarding school and became the school’s star student; the younger one remained with mom and came back to the U.S. The father remained overseas…
A sixteen year old girl came to me feeling very depressed and uninspired by school. Her mother was extremely concerned by her lack of engagement. This girl was extremely bright but did not do well in a traditional setting. Her mother said her creative side needed to be encouraged in order to get her engaged…
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